Once upon a time,

There was a story.

But no to tell it..."

-A.D.Y. Howle

It's about damn time…

Finally, after a century of slumber, she opened her eyes. Her motions were slow, but deliberate. She was adjusting, giving her body time to transition from that dreaded darkness into the familiar gleam of daybreak. The slight pressure he had not too long ago imprinted upon her lips was still felt, and she was face to face with him. Her savior.

Prince Charming.

She let her eyes wander.

Wait. Was he… naked?

What. The. Hell.


Well damn…

Of all the ways to die, Ari had never thought that death—her own death nonetheless—would come in the form of a one thousand foot free fall onto a thicket of conveniently-place, conveniently-sharpened rocks the size of fat cows. Maybe it was the summation of her own conceit, but she always imagined her death to be painless.

Graceful, even.

Less of being bludgeoned to death by boulders at terminal velocity, and more of a peaceful passing from lucid dreaming into a field of celestial copper-colored roses and ivory gardenias. And while her body, that vacant shell inhibited by primordial necessity and humanly desire, degenerated to dirt, she would drift away into a golden eternity where perpetual drunkenness would spawn delusional bliss. She would then proceed to run through the fields garbed in a flimsy white sheet, roll in patches of sinfully-saccharine manna and get drunk off of her ass with the angels. And that wasn't even the best part.

She would never get fat. Not even a little.

But it was obvious that lady fate—that bitch—had something else in mind.

That shit would not be happening.

Her people would not be mourning her perfectly-intact body anytime soon. There would be no dwarf-crafted viewing glass like Snow White after she had bribed her half-sized minions with homemade soup and a dust-free, no-microbial-in-sight environment. There wouldn't even be a damn granite coffin. All there would be was a bucket, a bucket that would contain the contents of her body after going splat: congealed blood among other remnants of her royal pulp.

Morbid.

Disgusting.

Demeaning.

And it was all the damn cat's fault.

...

Preface

Her first encounter with the so called "Mistress of Evil," as the witch would unnecessarily and inappropriately refer to herself in the third person, was nothing short of a cataclysmic disaster. Besides the fact that the woman was grammatically confused, she decided to exercise her magnificent powers while expressing her affinity for transforming the unfortunate into barnyard animals against their wills.

The crazy bitch turned her mother into a chicken.

Yes. The Queen De Sevene, the crown jewel of the Northern District and matriarch of the House De Sevene, had been reduced to nothing but free-range poultry. And all it took was a snap of the witch's fingers. A single snap of those rough, unkempt, and unhealthy lime-tinged digits—though one had to admit that those carefully-filed, dagger tipped onyx fingernails were both surprisingly stylish and tragically cliché—and all hell broke loose.

First there was a chirp.

Then a cluck.

And before anyone knew it, feathers began to sprout out of places that not even hair dared to venture. It was a surreal experience, truly: watching the most powerful woman of the court shrink in stature and begin pecking at the ground for no apparent reason. But considering that it was her mother, the experience was everything short of pleasant—or, as the staff would refer to the incident years later, pheasant.

It kind of sucked.

The entire ordeal was an allergy-inducing mess. Plumage flew everywhere. Furniture was overturned and quite frankly, the smell was horrific. The cats began to chase the fowl that was her mother; the staff began to chase the cats; Ari chased after the staff; the king began to chase after his daughter, and the nobility began to chase after their liege with the futile hope that securing his chicken of a wife, their queen, would secure their status' within his good graces. But, it really didn't. In any other situation, of course, no noble in their right mind would chase after feral poultry. But considering that they were dealing with feral royal poultry, the situation facilitated an exception without reasonable doubt. Everything seemed to be under control…

And then the knights decided to chase after the nobility and hell ensued.

She should have seen it coming.

No good could come after a legion of metal-clad soldiers, with skulls as thick as their armor and the hand-eye coordination of potatoes, decided to follow behind equally-confused, equally-clumsy nobility. As the chase proceeded down a flight of steps, one of the noblewomen stumbled from under the voluminous folds of her ridiculously-tiered, vomit-colored petticoat and one by one, the metal men began to fall like dominoes. The latter became entangled with the former like a tumble weed until eventually, a man-made sphere of failing limbs and iron began to trail behind them all.

Never before have they seen their king run so fast.

The impact had been both sudden yet inevitable. Not as bad as Ari had imagined being flattened by a gigantic metal ball would be like. The soft fabrics of the noblemen's garbs complimentary to the plump padding stowed away strategically at each noblewoman's breast and bottom, provided adequate cushioning. And the voracious, excessive and lavish tastes of the privileged were an added bonus. Less bone-against-bone contact, and more bone against fat interaction. It was like falling in pudding, really—just as disgusting, with comparable amounts of trans fat, but without the mess.

Or to more accurately portray to scenario, less mess, granted that one of the servants was carrying a pitcher of milk…presumably to lure the cats away?

And the entire time, the wretched witch was cackling, laughing her ass off so hard that Ari was sure (or, she at least wished) that the dreadful woman would choke on her own tongue. But that did not happen, evidently, as her crippling laughter proceeded to fade into the sounds of their own aching moans. While they were all invested into their own muscle soreness, the volume of her voice began to increase exponentially as her footsteps served as sizable accompaniment.

Clank. Pause. Clank.

What was the bitch wearing? Metal buckets for shoes?

Eventually her laughter died down, giving way to uniform pulses of sound.

Clapping.

"Very good. Quite entertaining." Her voice was deep, sultry, yet so damn annoying. Wisps of smoke began to appear mere feet within the wreckage. The visibility from within the room decreased as a screen of mauve appeared and began to invade the entire room, every inch of it, until one could barely see their own hand in front of their face. That was, assuming there was one body in the gigantic heap of humans whose arm wasn't either trapped in metal or broken.

Ari was one of them. She attempted to waft away the nauseating, evasive smog. But at no avail. The smoke was like acid. It stung the eyes, irritated the nasal passages, and quite frankly, tasted like shit. She coughed. Choked, even. At some point, she was anticipating the ejection of her own blood. Then, the smoke lightened to a violet mist and disappeared altogether.

"You like the mist? It's made from the root of belladonna."

It was a valid question, grammatically correct (surprisingly) and easy enough. But The Mistress of Evil had failed to realize one thing. The Mistress of Evil, as not implied by the name, was not much of a critical thinker. She overlooked the fact that belladonna was toxic, highly poisonous. Lethal, even—which was why she was known as merely the Mistress of Evil and not the Intelligent Mistress of Evil.

Not surprisingly, the venomous smog had knocked out a majority of the group. They were passed out cold and there was barely anyone to listen to her villainous monologue. Another terribly predictable cliché.

Unfortunately, Ari had been blessed with the gift of consciousness.

When there was no answer from the dazed masses, the witch's brows furrowed into a deep "v" shape and her scarlet drenched lips disappeared into a straight line.

Red against pasty-green.

Bad decision.

"Shame…" The woman whined. There was something about her voice; it was mysterious, raspy, yet so refined. Glamorous, even. "It came so highly recommended. You know, add a little finesse to my entrances."

That was her idea of an entrance? Poisonous flower dust and powdered smoke? If that was her idea of a grand entrance, then…

"You need to speak with your provider…" Ari muttered beneath a muffled cough. What had been intended as a private thought had molded into audible words, a soft sarcastic whisper. She attempted to cover her lips with her unbounded arm. But it was already too late. The damage had been done.

At the perception of her voice, the witch turned towards her. The woman's eyes were emerald green, intensely pigmented, but not nearly as glossy. "What was that, princess…?" Her voice oozed with vengeance. And it did not sound pretty. Apparently sultry and deep was not the witch's real voice. It must have been staged, because her tone adapted the same pitch and cry as her unsettling cackle.

"I meant…" She began to scan through the expanse of her mind for an answer, something that would facilitate a smooth recovery. Something cunning, flattering. Foolproof. But there was nothing, just the thought of her feathered mother. "You see…It's very simple…There's a good expl—"

Shit.

She was screwed.

"Haha…ha..." Her own laugh was awkward and strained. First came the forced smile, then an uninhibited frown. Then silence. "Please don't turn me into a chicken."

The witch walked towards her. Every step was unhurried, so damn deliberate. Inches from Ari's face, the woman bent down so their eyes would meet. Of course, this allowed for a painfully awkward situation as the princess was lying on her back, allowing for an underside view of the sorceress's protruding chin.

"How about a vegetable…" She growled.

At this point, Ari was panicking. The prospect of becoming produce was not at all enticing: sprout out of the ground, be harvested, eaten, and rot.

Would she be able to feel as a vegetable?

Would the sensation of another person's teeth sinking into her flesh be applicable?

And if so, what would that feel like?

Do vegetables even go to heaven?

Ari had so many questions, but out of the thousands, only one thing was certain.

No thank you…

"I'm allergic to corn…" She blubbered out impulsively. "And carrots, and potatoes, and lettuce." She then proceeded to list out the names of all the vegetable she knew of. She wasn't the pretentious type, but she knew of a lot of vegetables: asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, kale… bok choy.

Okay. So she didn't really know what bok choy was. The leafy green was recently obtained by Eastern traders from some far-off land, but was worth a shot.

"—And I'm allergic to chickens…" She thought that by repeating that point, would spare her from the perpetual clucking and prospect of becoming the dominant ingredient in stew.

She didn't even like stew.

"I was thinking of a different type of vegetable…" The witch had regained the silkiness in her voice.

A fruit…?

"No… wait—"

The Mistress of Evil snapped her fingers. And all that was left was an impenetrable darkness.